There’s a bulletin board in our house that’s a home for future plans. On it hangs the tickets for upcoming concerts, dates for family vacations, and clippings of future community events. When I returned home for Christmas break from The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., my dad and I hung up a new agenda on the bulletin board. The agenda was listed on a yellow legal pad page and consisted of my plans for this summer when I will be a rising senior. The entire page was filled with adventures that I couldn’t wait to dive into, and its bright presence on our bulletin board signaled happy days ahead. Upon returning home to Clifton Park for spring break in early March I never would have imagined that I would not be returning to my regular schedule and life in D.C. by the end of break. Life started to change rapidly and eventually the yellow legal pad page hanging on the bulletin board at home was taken down. All of my plans had suddenly changed. I think this is a position many, if not all of us, are in right now. Life has certainly changed at a fast pace.
On Wednesday of Holy Week I found myself drowning in a sea of online lectures. Taking a much needed break, I put on a TED talk by Brené Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability.” I chose Brown’s TED talk because I was curious about her take on vulnerability. Although Brown’s TED talk moved me, I tried to push it away – I didn’t think I would ever find power in my vulnerability. Admittedly, I absolutely hate being vulnerable. Despite the walls that I was trying to put up to the truth that I was hearing, this idea of vulnerability kept on coming back to me throughout all of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. As I thought and prayed about it more, I started to realize that Christ’s Passion on the Cross was the ultimate display of vulnerability. Jesus’ vulnerability is what inevitably led Him to the tomb. But He didn’t stay in the tomb, He rose again.
In her TED talk, Brown says that vulnerability is “…having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.” This quote reminds me of Mary venturing to the tomb early in the morning. That morning Mary was on her way to anoint the lifeless body of her Savior, when mere days before He had been riding gloriously into Jerusalem. For Mary and the disciples, life certainly had changed at a rapid pace. Despite this Mary had the vulnerability, the courage, to show up at the tomb of Christ even when she thought that the only outcome was death. Maybe this time, when our schedules and plans have changed rapidly, is a call for us to be vulnerable like Mary was when going to the tomb. We can either run from our vulnerability, or we can decide to radically embrace it. So how can we “have the courage to show up even when we can’t control the outcome” during this Easter Season?
Brené Brown says that “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the power of our light.” When Mary ventured into the darkness on Easter morning, she discovered the power of His light. But she had to venture to the tomb first, for with every Good Friday there is an Easter Sunday. Therefore, I invite you to lean in; lean into your tomb and what is buried within it. During this especially trying time we grieve the loss of lives, the hopes and plans we have had deterred or cancelled, the difficulty of isolation from loved ones. All of these hurts are buried within our tombs. To accept our vulnerability we must acknowledge our tombs, we must acknowledge our Good Fridays. But “we are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Let Him raise what is within your tomb to new life. When you let Him do this, when you allow Him into your tombs, your hurt, your suffering – you are being vulnerable.
Perhaps the greatest act of vulnerability during this time would be to choose to continue to trust Him. To recognize that although Mary went to the tomb expecting death, she found the fullness of life. There is a deep vulnerability in entrusting yourself to Him and His Masterplan. While we might devote so much of our time and energy pinning plans to our bulletin boards, we have to trust that His plan, His bulletin board if you will, is far greater than ours.
As simple as it is, I invite you to do the following each day for the remainder of the Easter Season. Keep a log or journal of three blessings from each day, in order to keep track of what the Master Planner is doing. Take some time to reflect on how you see Him working in your life and what graces He is blessing you with. This is a practice I started in high school and always referred to it as keeping a “gratitude journal.” Instead of keeping a “gratitude journal” I invite you to keep an “Easter journal” recording the small details of the Resurrection story that He is working within you. I pray that in this Easter Season, we will not be afraid to let Him into the depths of who we are and bring us more fully to life.
“Risen One, You descended into death and to all those death has held buried within.
Descend also into my depths, down to all that is dead within me, and to everything that still waits for your life and your light. You have truly risen from the tomb and you lead the dead into life the benighted into the light and sinners to reconciliation with the Father. Rise up in me also, from the tombs within me, and raise up what is dead within me into life, my unattractiveness into the loving gaze and my guilt into the waiting arms of the Father.” - George Lengerke